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When Reform Takes Precedence over Reputation

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” – Susan B. Anthony

Governor Palin’s decision not to renew her contract at Fox News has received a lot of discussion from the punditry  as expected. Some have pretentiously referred to her as a fad. Others wrote her political obituary (just as they did when she stepped aside from the governorship), casting everything in past tense as if she just plans ride off into the aurora bourealis on a snow machine. Of course, Governor Palin isn’t the political equivalent of pogs or Shirley MaClaine, who has had more lives than most cats. Rumors of her political death are greatly exaggerated, which is just how she wants it. As Governor Palin said to Breitbart News on Saturday, ” we delight in those who underestimate us”.

Throughout her career, Governor Palin, just like Susan B. Anthony, has cared far more about reform than reputation. When she was on the city council, she took a stand by voting against a regulation for garbage pickup because it would have unethically steered business to the garbage company owned by other council member. Who was that council member? Nick Carney–the very person who encouraged Palin to run for city council. Reform was more important to her than social standing.

As an oil and gas regulator in the Murkowski administration, she stood up to Randy Ruedrich, a fellow member of the Alaska  Oil and Gas Commission and the head of the Alaska Republican Party, when he did party business on state time and was engaged in other unethical behavior. Palin did all she could do with in her power to expose the corruption, but Governor Murkowski did not act. The only thing Palin felt she could do in good conscience was resign. She gave up a six figure job and risked her political future.Again, reform was more important to her than social standing.

Later, as Governor and following her time as the GOP vice presidential candidate, she was hit with a barrage of frivolous ethics complaints. Defending these complaints cost her family hundreds of thousands of dollars, her state upwards of two million dollars, and her staff eighty percent of their time. Governor Palin thought that remaining governor stood in the way of reform for Alaska, as the money and time suck of ethics complaints stymied progress for her state. Rather than bitterly clinging to power, Governor Palin resigned with the full understanding that it may negatively affect her political future.

Following her resignation, she used multiple media platforms to spread her conservative message. She became a commentator at FoxNews, endorsed and campaigned for reform minded candidates,spoke at Tea Party rallies and used social media outlets to voice her ideas and thoughts on issues ranging from energy independence to foreign policy to government ethics. She used somewhat unconventional outlets, like TLC’s Sarah Palin’s Alaska and appearances Conan O’Brien, to reach new groups and affect the culture beyond the traditional media used  in politics. For much of this, she was mocked. Governor Palin takes to the her Facebook page far more often than the pages of the Wall Street Journal, although she does that on occasion too. However, using such a platform was poo pooed as unserious. In reality, it was a revolutionary way for politics to enter the social media, as people were exposed to energy policy right along side new pictures of their grand children and news of their favorite music artist’s tours. Her travelogue show exposed new people to Alaska’s vast resources and the application of a strong work ethic. Again, reforming the method of marketing conservatism in culture and new media was more important to her than her social standing within a party holding steadfast to a world where white papers, focus groups, and power point presentations are seen as the means to influencing the populace.

Governor Palin spoke unabashedly as a commentator at FoxNews. However, as an outlet primarily seen as the “Republican” channel, commenting at Fox became “preaching to the choir”. As she noted on Saturday, Governor Palin’s message of reform is taking on the “big government enablers” on our side and using opportunities to broaden “the message of the beauty of freedom and the imperative of defending our republic and restoring this most exceptional nation.” Interestingly and possibly purposefully, news of Governor Palin’s departure from Fox and her next steps came as the same time as the National Review held a summit, complete with participation from Joe Scarborough, to discuss the future of conservatism–i.e. the very preaching to the choir that she indicated that conservatives need to move away from. For all this, the mainstream media, many of whom try to cast FoxNews as inconsequential, are now trying to portray Governor Palin as irrelevant without Fox. Yet, if one is truly irrelevant, they usually do not require hundreds of news stories deeming them so. She is so “irrelevant” that a publicly funded university did a study to determine how much money she was paid per word at Fox. There still hasn’t been a study to determine how much money the federal government spends/borrows per word that President Obama reads off of a teleprompter.

Governor Palin’s next step of reform is to expand her previous steps of taking on the party establishment and continuing to broaden the message of conservatism. Reform is in her nature–whether is policy reform inside elected office or conservative messaging reform and supporting reform minded candidates outside of office. As she said in channeling Revolutionary war hero John Paul Jones, she has not yet begun to fight.

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  • Mr.L

    Excellent Whitney. 

  • mainelysteve

    Principles over popularity!

  • indemind

    Tip Top article Whitney,  this is why your the Pip… :-)))

    SarahAmerica- “We delight in those who underestimate us”

  • pete4palin

    Agree!  But I believe the best way to take on the party establishment is to leave them behind and begin anew.
    Working together requires a commonality of goals.   And this will require clear communication of said goals.  This will require a change of style from those who want to keep their desires to themselves and out of the public. It will also take changing an  “oh shucks, I’m not important”  attitude to “hey everyone…  listen up!”  
    Stay tuned……  

  • blueniner

    Great read Whitney…..

  • MaMcGriz


    They done throwed ‘er in the briar patch.

    heh heh heh

    Good work, Whitney. There’s a confident flow to this piece that beautifully underscores your knowledge of and commitment to the Governor and her work. Thank you.

  • deTocqueville1

    Thanks Whitney. Always right to the heart of things.

  • Firelight

    Well when you put it like…  LOL!!

    You really painted an excellent picture Whitney of just how principled and steadfast Gov. Palin has been thru out her career and just how irrational, inconsistent and full of irony the haters are.

    We have not yet begun to fight!

    • section9

      But in the final analysis, Palin is fortunate that her opponents, both in Alaska and in Washington, New York, and Hollywood, underestimate her so severely. This is a huge advantage for her.

      They literally think that she has no option now but to fade away into the sunset. That’s the last thing she will do. And that’s unfortunate, because it show’s just how self-referential and willing to lie to each other our political and media classes have become.

      Or, as Marie Antoinette famously remarked, “Let them eat cake!”

      • blackbird

        “underestimate her so severely” they are the Borg

      • Firelight

        It is not only an advantage that they underestimate her, in my opinion, that is what makes is sooooo much fun! :)

    • blackbird

      A leopard cannot change its spots. It’s us or them, there is no other way.

  • section9

    This was a superb essay on all counts. It gets to one of the central mistakes liberals make about Palin.
    Andrew Sullivan is like on his seventeenth blog post over at The Daily Beast burying Palin. One of the great mistakes that Palin’s enemies made about her is that they believed their own bullsh*t about Palin without examining Palin’s record. The members of the Propaganda Ministry also failed to guard against their own emotional attachment to Obama left over from the 2008 Campaign.
    Palin understood, as Reagan did before her, that good policy and good governance beget good reputation. The Left, slaves to power as they are, place policy and governance second to the seizure and maintenance of power.
    It will astonish and anger the Left and their Petainist outriders, such as Sullivan and Doug Mataconis, that Palin will not only not go fade away, but will probably increase her attacks on Obama and seek out more opportunities to engage in high profile attacks on the Administration. She does not need the safe harbor of FOX News Channel to further her political career, and never did! This is a lie that her enemies tell each other to reassure themselves that Palin is both not dangerous to them and a waning force.
    Whitney’s analysis today is both refreshing and a tonic for a conventional wisdom about Palin that is full of reassuring lies-lies told by leftists to each other to make them feel safe and reassured.

    But they are not safe from Sarah Palin. She is coming for them.

    • John_Frank

      The Left, slaves to power as they are, place policy and governance second to the seizure and maintenance of power.

      Yes, but we have also seen and will continue to see attacks from the right for the same reasons.

      • section9

        This is important to note about many on the Right, especially in the Bush wing of the Party. However, I’ve always felt that they are willing to settle for the scraps off the Left’s table as long as the Left leaves them alone to run the GOP, which is what the Left is willing to let them do, as long as the GOP is a pliant, secondary, Petainist party of Quislings.

        Of the Democratic Party today, it is best to recall what Fidel Castro said to Tad Szulc, his famous biographer from the New York Times. When Szulc asked him why he didn’t hold free elections, remarking at the time that the dictator was so popular he would surely win any popular election among the Cuban people because of the legacy of the Revolution, Castro responded, “I could never hold free elections, Mr. Szulc. I am a slave to Power.”

  • Riley4Palin

    Superb piece Whip.

  • Guest

    People shun SP because they don’t know how to handle their guilt in her presence….
    with a revolution of reform, will the guilty be given an opportunity to reform or be bulldozed to make way for the new ??

  • blackbird

     Brilliant Whitney.

  • John_Frank

    Excellent analysis Whitney. Thank you.

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